This article is more or less going to be an “I have thoughts and they’re a bit everywhere” post rather than a full analytical breakdown of Gray and I think that’s a good thing.
I’ve been championing the idea for the better part of the last couple months. Gray was a near can’t miss prospect, an absolute beast with a slider that a scout told me was “one of the best pitches I’ve ever seen in college.”
The Tigers’ organizational philosophy has progressively caught up to the league and surpassed most of it. They’ve recently hired a stream of pitching coaches and coordinators who are well respected by the entire league and are at the forefront of using video for changes to grips and mechanics, to get the most out of their pitchers.
This isn’t something new to baseball, of course; technology has just provided the ability to perfect old school teachings. We see that in how Avila has talked about the scouting department’s reports on Pelfrey; they believed that simple adjustments in grip and mechanics, which I’m guessing was tunneling, could’ve led to Pelfrey being a major contributor.
The Tigers have fully embraced the Dodgers’ and Rays’ philosophy of high spin sliders and hard fastballs, and Gray fits this mold so well. Fetter getting his hands on a pitcher like Gray, whose slider ranked amongst the league’s best with a near 39% whiff rate and a run value of -13, placing him above guys like Gerrit Cole and just below de Grom (this was found thanks in part to Rogelio Castillo), is a damn dream for the Tigers future. Gray still averaged 95.5 on his fastball, has an above average changeup, and a good cutter. Colorado sucks for pitchers so his numbers are really to be taken with a grain of salt. Fetter has shown an ability to develop changeups at the major league level for his pitchers too, with Lange a primary example of this. A jump in Gray’s cutter and changeup, under Fetter’s tutelage, wouldn’t be a shock either.
Moving Gray into a bigger ballpark that typically plays closer to league average than pitcher friendly, is going to help Gray immensely. It’s no secret that the Tigers need another pitcher, and quite frankly, I’d love to have three new pitchers join the rotation until Turnbull and Boyd return. The team is right on the edge of competing and Gray is one of those pieces that can turn into a key cog in the rotation for the future and recreate the four headed monster that the Tigers used to have.
I would also have zero qualms about trading for Luis Castillo and I would be checking in on that price and see if Joey Wentz and Jose De La Cruz + would be enough for him. This would also make trading Manning for a hitter with control, a la the Jazz Chisolm and Zac Gallen trade, a possibility.
Gray is such a perfect guy to throw 3 years 27 million at. Also, Carlos Rodon got non tendered too and I would be throwing 3 years, 50 million at him to see if that could entice him into signing. Rodon fits in that same mold as Gray, and every pitcher that the Tigers drafted in 2021. I have my doubts over whether or not Rodon would take that but his injury history scares me too much to go long term with him.